Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted at Islamic fear of a religious debate at an international conference last week on religious freedom, according to Neil Munro of the Daily Caller. The effects of the first phase of the "Istanbul Process," a multinational debate on balancing religious freedom and the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation's [OIC] demand for an end to all criticism of Islam wrapped up behind doors without clear results.
"I mean, every one of us who is a religious person knows that there are some who may not support or approve of our religion. But is our religion so weak that statements of disapproval will cause us to lose our faiths?" Clinton asked in what Munro termed a "daring and novel" rebuke of Islamic governments. "And so there is no contradiction between having strong religious beliefs and having the freedom to exercise them and to speak about them and to even have good debates with others," she added.
Many call the meeting a "very bad idea," pointing out how it gives the OIC a platform to continue lobbying against Western ideas of free speech.
The conference was intended to carry out United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which the Hudson Institute's Nina Shea said "was adopted in the place of one that endorsed the dangerous idea that 'defamation of religion' should be punished criminally worldwide." While it ended inconclusively, she argues the OIC still received "a transnational venue … to reintroduce its anti-defamation push," which had been laid to rest by the U.N. resolution.
Others claim that Resolution 16/18 already provided some measure of balance between Western and Islamic demands, by calling for "concrete, positive measures" rather than legal strictures, to combat anti-religious speech. They argue that the meeting was just a follow-up to America's assurances in the resolution.